Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Category

the perfect mousse, now with even more details!

November 26, 2008

Lately, the stress of our impending move has been getting to me in ways that are less than funny for everyine involved. Meaning I am completing the transformation into a cross between a harpy a fury and a completely disoriented three year old – FUNTIMES!

I also feel like I am getting completeley cheated out of the normal advent (pre christmas) season, what with the decorating of apartments, the baking of cookies, getting of gifts and general cozyness generally associated with this time. And, to quote my four year old niece, J’adore Noel’, I love chrismas. fiercels. So, in short, I am a little bit meh around the edges here.

I managed to cop out on regular posting last week, when I gave you lots of details about me, but this week, I am here, and present and ready to share with you my views (opinionated, as always) and recipe (excellent, as always!) on the hot button issue that is mousse au chocolat. And ok, maybe it’s only a hot button issue for me (see opinionated, above) but I am sure my views and recipe will make you converts and crusaders on this topic as well.

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You see, chocolate mousses seem to come in all shapes ansd sizes, with any number of possible add-ons and fancy frills, when their actual truth and beauty really lie in the fact that they are chocolate, but in a mousse, billions of calories in guise of something airy and fluffy.
And so I say, down with the creamed up, brandyed and sugared beasts from hell, and up with the original true recipe, the one many a french persons still makes following the words on the packaging of this particular brand of chocolate . It only requires 200g of good chocolate and 6 eggs (preferably organic) and maybe 15 minutes of your time to achieve chocolate heaven. And I think that’s what makes it a perfect recipe, a keeper in times of stress and exigencies of perfection (way to sum up my life here, BTW!). And because I just shared this secret recipe, I can now confess to the secret behind the mousse pictured here.

I doctored it. Not a lot, but still. I needed to impress (I always do, see exigencies of perfection) and in order to impress and soothe the christmas spirit, I came up with the lovey idea to use this german favorite of mine, a dark christmas chocolate, flavored with a hint of coriander and cinnamon. And to melt my chocolate in the microwave, i didn’t use water, I used orange juice. There I said it.

But you know, since the chocolate rules are self imposed, I figured I might as well bend them at will, especially since I was in dire need of something to make me feel like I wasn’t loosing the christmas spirit inside of one of the boxes I was packing. In truth, followed the recipe to a tee: melting the chocolate (no ones says you can’t use flavoured chocolate) in a bit of liquid (no one says you can use orange juice for that, indeed, I did and used maybe 4 tablespoons) mixing in the 6 egg yolks and carefully folding in the 6 stiff beaten eggwhites. Chilled it for 3h (or overnight) and served it after a trully fantastic homecooked chinese meal at our friends d & a.

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You should try and do a mousse like that, I promise you’ll become as opinionated as me! And thus ends todays “posting in times of stress while revealing more details about ones character than possible possible”!

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The Honeymoon Is Over

August 3, 2008
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I am happy to report that I am officially done with my obsession with layercakes. It’s been holding up for nearly four years now, ever since we got married in my parents’ vacation house in the south of France. I had really wanted a tiered american layer cake — just like the ones you can see here, a serious princess cake — and was sorely disappointed with the fact that all french pâtissiers flatly refused to make me one. Their argument was très french: they simply said that in order for the cake to hold up and look good, ‘we’ would have to compromise on flavor. And ‘we’ don’t do that. So, I had to shelve this particular gastronomic (or not, according to the french!) fantasy, since baking the cakes myself was deemed unacceptable by my family.

The choice we made for our wedding cakes was so fabulous however, that the layer cakes where scoffed at in retrospect. We chose to get multiple cakes and macarons from a great pâtissier in the the town near our location, and even now I can’t think back about the food and desserts we served without drooling! In fact we are going there next week, and I can tell you right now, that we will most definitely be visiting this pâtisserie!

Anyway, I had forgotten all about the perfect layer cake, until I was sent straight back into obsessionland, thanks to the suspense story that was smitten kitchen’s project wedding cake. As soon as I read about it, I had to eat one, make one, find the perfect one. I mentioned the first one I didn’t blog, and ate a few in the meantime. This weekend, however was the apogee as well as the epiphany. In terms of layering that is.

I made a chocolate layer cake and filled and frosted it with a chocolate sour cream ganache. And lo, it was really really great. Hence the apogee. And really really American. Hence the epiphany. I have come to understand, that I actually like simple cakes and tartes better than this big affair that screams CAKE and represents CAKE! I like cakes, and desserts and sometimes I really need to have layer cake, but not enough to make it myself. So back to the simple dessert drawing board for me.

But, if YOU are looking for an awesome, delicious, perfect and highly good looking chocolate layer cake, then look no more, here it is! I made it from two different recipes from the same book namely Cynthia Barcomi’s Backbuch. The chocolate fudge cake is actually to be frosted with a chocolate buttercream frosting, which somehow wasn’t quite what I wanted. I therefore opted to frost it with the sour cream ganache frosting from the banana chocolate swirl cake which I will never make, due to my intense dislike of all things banana. The chocolate fudge cake together with the sour cream chocolate ganach makes the whole thing somewhat akin to the aptly named devil’s food cake. I would like to apologize also, for bringing this up during a time where we all should be donning swim suits, and for my defense would like to say that… I don’t know. Go run or something!

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Chocolate Layer Cake

From Cynthia Barcomi’s Backbuch

prep time: 25 min total, cooling time 1h30, 1h for the cakes and 30 min after frosting it
metal mixing bowls,two 24 cm cake tin with removable sides

For the Chocolate Fudge Cake

280 g flour
120 g cornstarch*
400 g sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
250 g of butter, softened
335 ml boiling water
125 g unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp molasses / sugarbeetroot syrup
3 eggs

Preheat your oven to 180° and butter your cake tins. Line them with parchment paper if you are so inclined. Dissolve the cocoa powder in the 335 ml boiling water and stir in the syrup. Pour out 60 ml in a separate bowl and leave both to cool.
In a mixing bowl, measure up flour, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, salt and sugar. Mix in the butter by hand or with a handmixer until the mixture ressembles coarse crumbs.
With the handmixer (and preferably the help of a baking assistant) pour in the larger batch of cocoa and mix until everything is perfectly homogenised, about 2 min.
Add the eggs one at a time to the rest of the cocoa mix and incorporate it to the previous mix in three batches, making sure to beat each batch for about 15 sec.
Pour equal parts into your baking tins and bake for about 25 min or until set. Leave to cool for about 10 min before removing the cakes from the tins.

You should go take a break now, this was hard work, and if you are thinking of making the frosting right away, stop now. Applying it to a cake that is still slightly warm, will give you a melting mess and no choice but to simply gobble up the rest of the ganache right then and there (seriously, this ganache is practically a desssert on it’s own, it’s that good!).
When your cakes are good and cooled, make sure you level them, so you won’t end up with a domed cake, or one that looks like two cakes fell upside down on top of each other to smooch!. Levelling the domes will ensure you’ll two get even, straight cakes that you can frost and fill.

For the Chocolate Sour Cream Ganache

340 g chocolate, melted
400 g sour cream at room temperature

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. With a rubber spatula, incorporate the sour cream and mix until everything is smooth and uniform in texture.

How to Frost the Thing

Put the first leveled cake bottom down on a plate or cake platter (another obsession of mine!), then take an offset spatula** and start applying a thin coat of ganach to the top of the cake and it’s sides. This is called a crumb coat and prevents the frosting from getting, well crumbey and not so pretty-looking. Let it set for a minute. Be patient. You will be rewarded.
Once set, fill the inside with a third of your frosting. Put the second leveled cake bottoms up on top of the first and apply a crumb coat to the top and sides as well. Putting it bottoms up will allow for the top layer to look as flat and even as possible.
Now, apply a generous amount of frosting to the middle of the cake, and in a sweeping and turning motion, run the spatula all over the cake while simultaneously turning the cake platter. Keep applying more frosting and let it run down the sides of the cakes. Put the spatula horizontal to the sides of the cake, and turn the platter while applying more frosting. If you are completely confused now, just google ‘how to frost a cake’ and find a video to visually demonstrate what I am trying to explain!.
I reccomend giving the cake 30 min to collect itself before you eat it.

And thus endeth my obsession. I promise I will post something other than crazy rich cakes next time!

* You could also use 400 g of cakeflour, which has a softer texture and a lower protein content and makes your cakes rise higher and have a finer texture.

** I finally bought one, and seriously, is there a better tool to frost cakes? It makes it all so easy and martha stewart-ish!
*** If you are worried about the bathing suit issue, rest assured, we shared this cake among friends…

Anybody There?

March 3, 2008

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phsshhht (blows dust+cobwebs of her blog). Hi!
Sorry for not posting, but as I already explained to my 3 readers, our camera was broken, and whats the point of blogging about spareribs, lemon risotto and coffee cake if you have no photos to show for!

My camera is safely back in my hands, and the weekend was spent trying to make up for lost time: we bought a fresh coconut at the market, and I was thus hoping for a cake that would be like a bounty. I didn’t succeed, but the result was crazy nonetheless: behold, the fluffy, cloudy Chocolate-Coconut-Marshmallow Cake
The cake is simple chocolate, filled with marshmallow-coconut-filling and frosted with seven-minute-frosting. It looks very impressive ( If i do say so myself!), and isn’t too heavy, despite the large amounts of sugar. In fact, the cake was gone in two days. Two days, and only gave one piece away to a friend!

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Chocolate-Coconut-Marshmallow Cake

for the sponge cake
adapted from Trish Deseine MY CUISINE
prep time: 10min, baking time: 15 min, cooling time: 5-10 min

225 g sugar
225 g butter, softened
4 eggs
225 g flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp cocoa powder, diluted in 4 Tbsp hot water

2 25 cm round or square cake tins

Preheat the oven to 180°C. and line your buttered cake pans with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl combine the sugar and butter, mixing until white and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing well inbetween each one. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and add the cocoa mixture. Mix until just combined.
Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 25 minutes or until the cake feels springy to touch and a knife inserted to the center will come out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then invert unto a rack.

While the cake is cooling off, prepare the marshmallow frosting (also called seven-minute-frosting)

Marshmallow Frosting

1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
splash of white vinegar
prep time: 9min, cooling time: 10 min

metal mixing bowl or saucepan, pot of simmering water for a waterbath

Mix all the ingredients together in a metal bowl or saucepan set over a pot of simmering water. With an electric mixer, whip the mixture until the frosting stands in stiff peaks – about 5-7 min. When the right consistency is achieved, take the bowl of the heat and keep whipping until the mixture cools down, about two more min. Let the frosting cool completely for 10 more minutes.

Marshmallow-Coconut-Filling

1 cup of Marshmallow Frosting
1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut

Mix until combined.

Assembly

Spread the Marshmallow-Coconut-Filling on the first cake and top with the secind one. Set the cake on the plate or stand you want to serve it in. Stick pieces of parchment paper underneath the cake to catch any drips from the frosting. using an offset spatula or a big knife, spread the Marshmallow Frosting all over the cake and sprinkle some shredded coconut on top.
The cake is best eaten cold.